After a second downpour in little over two weeks, the mood in drought-stricken outback Queensland is changing. Graziers are quietly optimistic that the recent rains may help them end a decade-long drought. However, the rain has forced the cancellation of the historic Longreach Show, which attracts thousands of visitors each year. Since Monday night, properties around Winton, Longreach, and Julia Creek have received more than 100mm of rain. Flooding concerns have decreased in some outback communities, such as Longreach, which only received 33mm, giving graziers a second chance to soak. Leanne Kohler, CEO of Desert Channels Queensland, said the rain has the ability to break the drought in some areas.
“However, we’re still seeing a lot of houses where they’ve had a lot of rain but their neighbours haven’t gotten much,” Ms Kohler said. She stated that the rain’s benefit would be determined by the state of the soil. In the northwest, the uncharacteristically late rains have broken May records. Hughenden Airport experienced 66mm of rain, the wettest May in almost two decades. Richmond, which normally receives only 7.5mm of rain in May, has received a record-breaking 63mm. Eloise and Daniel, the children of Stonehenge grazier Georgia Whip, took advantage of the rain. The family lives 65 kilometres south of Longreach on a ranch that has received more than 100 millimetres of rain in the last 24 hours.
“[The] creek at the rear of our property is usually barely 2m wide when it runs, but it’s dry most of the year,” Ms Whip explained. “Right now, it would be around 100 metres broad.” Meanwhile, Paul Doneley of Barcaldine stated his property Dunraven had only received 23mm of rain. To end the drought, he argued, it would require considerably more than one “big wet.” He stated, “This is most likely a stepping stone.” He described the previous ten years as “horrific.” The sheep, cattle, and goat farmer stated his summer season was normal, and he expected the flood to affect his remaining stock numbers. Mr Doneley said, “I’ve already suffered a few losses from the previous amount of rain, so we’re expecting more regrettably.”
Since receiving good rain on Anzac Day, Camden Park Station near Longreach has brought 700 head of cattle back onto the farm for the first time in 11 years. The Longreach Show was cancelled due to severe rains that rendered the grounds unfit for use. Every year, roughly 3,000 people attend the agricultural event, which was scheduled for this Friday and Saturday. Because people were travelling and livestock had to go a considerable way, show society president Mary-Ann Ringrose said a choice had to be taken. Some travellers, like Brisbane natives Rhiannon van Oosten and Niko Aird, have had their holiday plans thwarted by the rain. The pair are travelling around the outback in their converted mini-bus but say potential flooding of highways will leave them marooned in Longreach. “You sort of see Longreach as dry, hot weather, not so much raining and floods.”